Mixed first-phase performance for British world number one at Kentucky: ‘It won’t be a dressage competition’

  • Oliver Townend and Cooley Rosalent scored 31.4 in the Defender Kentucky Three-Day Event dressage today and sit in equal eighth overnight.

    The British world number one and the Ridgeons’ up-and-coming grey put in some excellent work, with eights their best scores, but also had a couple of mistakes – the mare cantered out of the first halt and put in an extra flying change on the final diagonal – where their marks dropped as low as two.

    “I thought the exceptional bits were very good and the mistakes were the mistakes. I felt she was good. She’s just still a baby – she’s only nine coming 10 years old still and it’s the start of her career at this level. I think she’ll learn a lot here,” said Oliver, who was third on the mare at Maryland 5 Star last autumn.

    Kentucky Three-Day Event dressage judging

    Oliver was critical of the Kentucky Three-Day Event dressage judging, saying: “The judging is the judging. She did the test that she did. But I felt the good bits weren’t rewarded really and the mistakes were whacked obviously, which is correct. But when you sit there and watch [other tests] and see late changes have been awarded sevens and 7.5s, I think something needs to happen.”

    Commenting on how Cooley Rosalent reacted to the atmosphere in the stadium and the noise during her test, the world number one added: “She was incredible out here [in the warm-up] and they were very noisy when we went in and then it went very quiet and then somebody dropped a tin or something in the walk, so it did feel like things were folding against us. But at the same time, she’ll come on for that experience.”

    Oliver described himself as a huge fan of cross-country course-designer Derek di Grazia: “He has you twisting and turning early on, which means you’re going to be behind your minutes before you’ve even kicked off and got into a rhythm, and he tests you all the way to the end.

    “I think he’s the best in the world at designing and I think that it’s definitely, definitely not going to be a dressage competition. I think that stamina will be a huge effect, even though the ground is incredibly good, good to firm. I still think you’ll see a lot of mistakes and a lot of time-penalties.”

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